Today’s our 5 year anniversary of traveling the world…Anniversary photos and memories….

Today, October 31, 2017, on our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica.

It felt great to be back in Atenas to the lovely villa, especially today as we celebrate our fifth anniversary of traveling the world. With a blissfully sunny day upon us and most assuredly pool time after we’re done posting, it will be yet another day to celebrate life.

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort in October 2013 to celebrate our first anniversary of traveling the world, here’s the link. We didn’t take a photo of ourselves on our second anniversary. We’ll do better going forward. But here’s the link for the day of our second anniversary.
A special homemade dinner is planned for this evening with plenty of chatter over memories we’ve made during these past five years. Since we weren’t planning on going out today, we’ve added the above photo taken this morning from the veranda overlooking the Alajuela Valley. It took a few tries using the tripod and timer to get the photo right, but we finally got it done.
As for our weekend to Managua, Nicaragua, we were reminded that there’s so much commotion associated with short trips. Whether it’s taxi rides to and from airports,  waiting in long lines to check-in (no curbside in most countries), waiting to check in with immigration, filling out entry and exit forms, or standing in the slow queue on the plane to get to our seats to store our carry on,  it all is time-consuming.
We celebrated our third anniversary in Fiji at Namale Resort & Spa with a tour and lunch at the world-renowned resort. See this link for details.

For these reasons and more, long ago, we decided to enhance our experiences by staying for more extended periods in most countries when our schedule allows it.  Had we been the types of travelers to be on the move constantly, we’d never have lasted five years.

So,  today on our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, we celebrate our early decisions along with the criteria we established (Please click here for our criteria, Part 1 and Part 2 here) well before we had the experience to know what we were doing.
This photo was taken on October 31, 2016, when it was October 30th in the US when we were about to board Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Sea for the back-to-back 33-night cruise. See this link for details.
We celebrate the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, and the commitment and passion we’ve easily maintained for wildlife and nature.  We’ve appreciated the sights and sounds of the big cities we’ve visited along the way.  But, our hearts remain entrenched in the country, in the valley, in the mountains, on the rugged savannahs, and of course, by the sea.

These choices have kept us closer to that which we love…the gifts bestowed upon us humans by our creator, not as much as those created by humans. No doubt, we applaud the skill and expertise of our forebearers in creating magnificent structures, art, and historical treasures.

In 28 days, we’ll do a full transit of the Panama Canal, an impressive feat of human labor and ingenuity. How can we not appreciate this, even though it was our second transit in these past five years on our first cruise in January 2013?  We’re sure we’ll be as in awe this second time as we were the first, now that the new larger canal has been completed.
We made our way through the long walk to Petra to finally see the Treasury, which was a life-changing experience.

Throughout the world, we’ve reveled in historic buildings, churches, and museums.  But, for those of you who have followed along with us all these years, nothing in our hearts and minds can compare to nature and wildlife.

The heart-pounding thrill of witnessing a rhino in the wild with oxpeckers on his head pecking at insects or, as of late, a single bird in flight alighting in a nearby tree to sing a song like none other we’ve heard in the past is magical to us.

Oxpeckers on the head of a rhino in the Masai Mara Kenya.  This shot made us squeal with delight.
And yes, I cried big tears of pure joy when we arrived at the Treasury in Petra Jordan but even bigger tears when we spotted our first lion drinking water in the Masai Mara (as shown in the photo below) or our first visit when we arrived in Marloth Park.

We’ve had our ups and downs; illness, injury, visa issues, booking errors, power outages, and dangerous drives on scary roads. We’ve lived close to terroristic attacks, experienced earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms like none other in our past lives.Through it all, we continued to strive to maintain an upbeat attitude while growing our abilities to adapt and conform to life on the move, living in countries with beliefs and morays so different from our own, making every effort to blend in and never appear to be the “ugly American.”
How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot? We both felt as if we were dreaming! We ended up calling it “safari luck” when we saw the Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari.
It hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t always been exciting and adventuresome. But, each day in its way has been special when we stopped what we’re doing at the moment, look into each other’s eyes and say, “Is this really our lives?  How did we get so lucky?

We continue to be grateful and humbled by the world around us, by the opportunity presented to us due to years of hard work to make this possible, for experiencing this adventure together, and ultimately, sharing it with all of YOU.
Happy day to all!
Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2016:
View of the Sydney Opera House as the ship sailed away. For more details, please click here.

Forgetfulness and aging…A story from long ago changing our lives…

Photo of the railroad guys at the train station.  Year unknown.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is a Clay Colored Robin, the national bird of Costa Rica.

Two weeks from today, we leave for Nicaragua for two nights, returning to the villa on the 30th.  The next day, October 31st is our five-year anniversary of traveling the world.

When we first began traveling in 2012, we hadn’t imagined we’d last five years.  At that time, we “qualified” our long-term plans by saying we’d find somewhere along the way where we’d eventually settle down or we’d return to live in the US, location to be determined.

Settling down at some point is no longer a topic of interest or discussion.  We’ve accepted the reality when health fails for either of us (which eventually will), we’ll have to make a decision.  Do we worry that such a sudden decision will overwhelm us especially under the duress of a medical problem? 

Locomotives, back in the day in Atenas.

Not really.  Why worry about a situation over which we have little control other than to take good care of our health and well-being each and every day?  When it happens, it happens.  We’ll figure it out from there.

An important aspect of managing such a situation is predicated on the ability of one of us to be able to make decisions in the event of a medical issue for the other.

In our old lives, at one point, I was concerned about developing memory loss issues as I’ve aged.  Dementia was a common condition on my mother’s side of the family. 

Horn off a locomotive.

Once I hit the age of 50, I found myself becoming forgetful…walking into a room and not remembering why, starting a project and getting sidetracked on another project, forgetting where I’d left off.  These were subtle changes I was embarrassed to mention,  not even to Tom.

In 2011, when I dramatically changed my way of eating from a ‘low fat, low protein, high carb, healthy whole grains” diet to a “high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet,” not only was I pain-free three months later but over the next several years, my memory improved to an astounding rate, comparable to when I was in my early 20’s.

No longer did I find myself losing things, wondering where I’d left something, or forgetting what I’d done the prior evening.  Was it due to the diet as explained in Dr. David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain” or was it due to the fact that in early 2012 I began the 12-hour-a-day process of planning our world travels keeping my brain whirring in a plethora of new knowledge?

Model trains on a shelf.

Dr. Perlmutter included the story of my success with this way of eating on his website as shown in this link here.  We also shared the story in one of our previous posts as indicated here in this link

The smidgeon of notoriety I gleaned from this article only mattered to me in that it might inspire one more individual to embark on this way of eating to improve their health as well.  When readers wrote asking questions, it was so rewarding.

No, this way of eating doesn’t make me exempt from injuries (obviously) such as in Bali when I hurt my spine (fully recovered now) or in developing Helicobacter Pylori from tainted food in Fiji from which I’m still recovering. (It may take a few more months).

Toy truck and more trains on a shelf.

However, being pain-free and regaining my memory has truly been an awe-inspiring result which ultimately allowed us to travel the world and recall the most finite details of our lives of travel.

Plus, it’s allowed me to post our daily stories which require a tremendous amount of recall.  Tom, on the other hand, inherited great “memory genes” and does equally well.  Tom’s mother, at 98 years old could recall names, birthdates, and events of her huge family and her life over the prior 11 decades.  Tom’s eldest brother Jerome, at almost 89, has an equally finely tuned memory. 

Ironically, Tom with the greatest of ease, remembers dates of past and upcoming events, places we’ve visited and our numerous cruises while I recall names of places, people, expenses, and miscellaneous oddball items. 

Coin collection at the museum.

Long ago, when we began our travels, we each gravitated toward that which we’d prefer to recall most readily.  Thus, we can always depend on one another to fill in the blanks.  As we all can recall from our schooldays, we tend to recall topics of the most interest to us.

Each day as it comes and goes, with a bit of serendipity thrown in, we’re left with memories we’ll always cherish as part of this wondrous life we’re blessed to live.

May your day be filled with wondrous memories.


Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2016:

Workers in the rice fields in Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

Gentle musings on a quiet day…A walk along the steep road in the neighborhood…

Each home in our gated community has exquisite and well-maintained landscaping befitting the rainforest surroundings. We don’t always live in such desirable surroundings, as seen in our photos in Thailand one year ago.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Our friend Louise, whom we met in Kauai, Hawaii, identified this bird as a Hoffmann’s Woodpecker. Thanks, Louise, we appreciate the information. I took this photo while sitting on the sofa on the veranda while working on a post. I knew if I stood, it would fly away, so I stayed put. 

This morning by 5:00 am, we were both up and out of bed, ready to start our day. With no daylight savings in Costa Rica, it was already light, and we could hear the cows mooing, the roosters crowing and endless varieties of birds singing their usual tunes. It’s a great way to start the day.

Costa Rica is all about lush greenery and other bright colors.

Oh, I don’t mean to imply everything is perfect in Costa Rica. Like any country we encounter in our world travels, each has its problems; poverty, crime, environmental issues, and more. 

But, sitting atop this hill, partway up a mountain in this dreamy property, it’s easy to let the realities of everyday life waft away. Yet, oddly, the responsibilities and tasks we’ve been undertaking since our arrival have grounded us as they have throughout this past almost five years. 

We had to walk up some seriously steep hills to take today’s photos, quickly as vertical as they are, in Campanario, Madeira, where we lived for almost three months in 2014.

In a good way, it’s been helpful we haven’t had access to a car which has kept us on point and determined to complete all the financial tasks and “paperwork” we’ve had before us. 

By the time we pick up the more permanent rental car in San Jose on the 28th, we’ll be prepared to change our focus on exploring and enjoying ourselves more freely, especially knowing we can come and go at a moment’s notice.

Many of the homes in the gated community are also gated for an added layer of security, as is the case of our villa. The main gate is operated by a guard 24 hours a day.

We never wanted our lives to feel as if we’re living in some dream or fantasy. Instead, it’s the harsh realities we discover in each country coupled with those of everyday life that we all experience, including rare illness and discomfort, that allow us those special moments, that unique sighting, and that perfect photo that makes this life feel “real” and purposeful.

Embarking on this life is not unlike falling in love. In the beginning, the adrenalin is flowing, the hearts are beating, and the enthusiasm is difficult to harness. Now, like after being in love for a while, we’ve settled into a gentle acceptance and appreciation that far surpasses that initial sense of obsession and heart-pounding passion.

Although not seen in this photo, there are dozens of butterflies fluttering nearby wherever there are flowers. 

We no longer think about how “brave” we are (we were) to tackle this lifestyle. Instead, we now think of making logical and practical decisions that ultimately will enhance our experiences.

Oh, don’t get me wrong…we haven’t lost a morsel of our enthusiasm and excitement for living in the moment nor in imagining the next.  But, it’s become like that magical moment when the in-love couple is in a crowd, each engaged with others to suddenly look up when their eyes lock in a knowing embrace that only time and memories can understand. We do that with each other and with our lives.

We notice various types of “clay” roofs on the homes in the gated neighborhood, including this less rounded style.

This early morning when I found myself peering over the veranda railing mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the vast Alajuela Valley that stretches much further than the eye can see, a wave of wonderfulness washed over me.

A profound awareness flooded my mind as I was reminded that we don’t have to live close to the sea in our world travels.  Contentment and total fulfillment may be found inland as long as we’re surrounded by nature.

This appears to be an older type of roof material, more rounded with natural clay.

Perhaps, that’s why when we select a home for a two or three-month stay, 90% of the time, we choose houses, not apartments or condos. At the first light of day, the views we embrace become imprinted in our hearts and minds as the purpose and powerful meaning we glean from our world travels.

Today, as always, we continue, our eyes peeled to the canopy of this rain- forest-lush country, our ears peaked to the slightest new sounds, and our hearts filled with the wonders of it all. We’re grateful. Eternally grateful.

Thank you for sharing it with us!

Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2016:

The unique shell on the left is US $722, THB 25,000, with the shell on the right at US $808, THB 28,000.  They’d fit in the palm of one’s hand.  Interesting to see.  For the last of the seashell photos, please click here.

A magical cloud experience in the mountains of Atenas Costa Rica…

Moment by moment, the clouds grew thicker and thicker.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom was standing on the veranda as the clouds began to roll in.

Last evening around 5:30 pm, just about the time we were thinking about having dinner, we looked outside (unavoidable with all the glass walls in this fine villa), and we thrilled to see fast-moving clouds that we could almost touch from the veranda.

We’d experienced a similar phenomenon when were lived in Madeira, Portugal, in the spring of 2014, for which we’ve included the photo of Tom on the veranda with the link to that post and video. Yesterday, we were as excited to see this event as we were over three years ago….our heads in the clouds!

Tom on the veranda in Madeira Portugal during a similar cloud “white-out.”  For more photos and a video, please click here.

Since we’re partway up the mountains here in Costa Rica (698 meters, 2261 feet, above sea level) in much cooler weather than by the sea (an hour and a half drive), such attractive weather conditions seem to be more prevalent.

Standing on the veranda as the clouds quickly moved across our view, we felt as if we could reach out and touch them. They rolled across the veranda at one point, and we were able to walk through them.

We gasped when we felt the cool, moist air, unlike anything we’ve ever felt before. It was breathtaking. Oh, some might say, “No big deal.  It’s just a bunch of clouds.”

For us, it’s these same experiences that make our travels rich and filled with wonder, so much so that we quickly and easily found our link from our similar experiences over three years ago.

It was stunning to watch the views dissipate and the clouds thickened.

It’s not easy taking photos of clouds right in one’s face, but we did our best.  Had there been more warning, I’d have taken a video, but it came up and dissipated so quickly, I barely had time to load the camera to take these few shots.

Within 15 minutes, the views across the valley cleared, and once again, we could see our surroundings. As a result, today’s “Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica” and other photos result from this event.

When it cleared, we moseyed off to the kitchen to reheat our leftover pizza, cook the green beans and toss the salad. Unfortunately, the pizza wasn’t quite as good as it was in Nevada weeks ago since we couldn’t find the right type of Italian sausage here in Atenas.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes to cover the entire Alajuela Valley.

The only Italian-seasoned sausage we found here had no casing. That was weird. Since it required cooking before placing it on the pizza, it ended up tasting somewhat like hot dogs, which we don’t usually eat. Maybe next time, we’ll try it using the local Spanish-type sausages with casings.

Also, we couldn’t find parchment paper at either of the two markets and had no choice but to use tinfoil (they don’t have non-stick foil here) which we coated with olive oil to no avail. It still stuck to the tinfoil.

Once the pizza was done, we had to peel the foil off the bottom crust, often in tiny pieces. Maybe we shouldn’t have pizza again while we’re here. Or, perhaps we should start packing parchment paper, an item we often use in cooking low-carb items but have difficulty finding in many countries.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our dinner and a quiet evening watching a few favorite shows on the big screen TV in the comfy screening room. We’d signed up for Netflix last week and had been watching a few choice shows.

It wasn’t quite as thick as it had been in Madeira Portugal, but it was similar. We could still see the light at a distance on the far right.

Whenever we sign up for Netflix, we do so for short periods, watching everything that appeals to us over one or two months, after which we cancel it and sign for HBO or Showtime while we binge watch other favorites.

Right now, we’re waiting for season 7 of Game of Thrones to complete its season, at which point we’ll sign up for HBO and be able to binge-watch the entire final season of this fantastic series. We rarely watch any shows during the day to avoid starting a bad habit that could prevent us from paying attention to our surroundings. Once it’s dark, we’re content to “settle in” for the evening.

Today is another quiet day. Isabel, one of the sweetest and most competent cleaners on the planet, is here today, recovered from her case of “gripa,” a bad cold she had last week when she was only able to work for part of the day. Thank goodness neither of us caught it from her.  She’s busy cleaning now in her cheerful good-natured manner. What a treasure she is!

We’ll have the first of the two rental cars in only four days, one for five days and the second for the remainder of our stay. So we’re looking forward to being mobile again but not so much for the dentist appointment scheduled for Monday.

May your day be filled with natural wonders, whether it’s a bird alighting on your window sill, big droplets of rain on a cloudy day, or a pretty cloud formation wafting through the skies. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 17, 2016:

One year ago, while we were in Phuket, Thailand, it was only six weeks after I’d seriously injured my spine, which took five months to heal. We didn’t do much while there, so I continued to post photos from the Phuket Seashell Museum. I’m sure all of our readers have seen enough seashells, then and now, with only one more day of these appearing tomorrow. But, if you’d like to see more, click here.

We’re packing in the good times…Minnesota and Nevada law changes…Five days and counting…

Tom and I dined here in our old lives. Dining here now doesn’t fit into the budget in this life.
It was over this past week that time began flying by at a pace we’ve only experienced in the final weeks of our favorite places in the world. With only five days remaining with the busy Fourth of July holiday in between, we continue to pack each day, spending time with family and friends.
Many buildings had changed or been added along Lake St. in Wayzata.

Shortly TJ and family are coming for breakfast, after which they’ll be dropping me at my dear friend Karen’s home in Eden Prairie, where I’ll spend part of the day on my final visit with her. 

This was formerly Sunset’s Restaurant and is now Cov.  Maybe we’ll try this for dinner one evening this final week.

Tom will drive to Wisconsin (a one-hour trip) with TJ and family, where they’ll purchase fireworks for the Fourth of July festivities. In the US (for our friends in other lands), the annual celebration of Independence Day is often commemorated with massive fireworks displays at both public venues and private backyards.

Outdoor dining at Cov Restaurant.

Minnesota is strict in many regulations, including prohibiting the sale of fireworks (beyond sparklers and ground snakes) for anything that makes noise or shoots into the air. Neighboring Wisconsin has no such laws, and many Minnesotans make the annual trip to shop at various stores close to the border.

Speaking of Minnesota laws, as of today, it will be legal to sell alcohol on Sundays, but only from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, at the discretion of liquor and wine shop owners. 

Another new building on Lake St.

Old laws on the books prevail in Minnesota, including that car dealerships must be closed on Sundays.  Oh, I won’t get into this topic any further; however, if your curiosity is piqued on “dumb laws,” click here for a few shockers.

Few boats were yet at the public docks in the cool early morning.

Now that we’re residents of the state of Nevada, we pay attention to what’s transpiring there. As of yesterday news, we discovered the following as quoted from this article:

“Sales of recreational marijuana kick off in Nevada on Saturday, July 1, and the state is expecting an onslaught of tourists coming to sample the local merchandise.”

The Lafayette Club private golf and country club is situated in Wayzata. As a popular and desirable wedding venue, I was married many moons ago (not to Tom).

Gee… many changes are occurring throughout the US and surprisingly here in Minnesota while we’re here and then in Nevada, where we’ll soon arrive in a mere five days. 

Yesterday was another busy day with the morning’s sightseeing and photo taking in Wayzata, which we’re wrapping up in today’s photos and midday shopping to round out our required purchases.

The owner of this newer 34-foot boat was busily washing the bow.  The upkeep of a boat is a constant and costly responsibility which we’re happy is no longer a part of our lives.  We both had boats before we met and for many years after that.

Last night was memorable, spending the evening with dear old friends and neighbors with whom we’ve stayed in close touch over this past almost five years. It was as if no time had passed at all when we all so quickly fell into step with warm hugs and animated conversations. 

A footbridge at the Wayzata Boatworks.

Tomorrow, we’ll post photos of our old neighborhood and Lake, including photos from our “happy hour” boat ride Jamie and Doug, who so generously hosted on their boat with fabulous food and drinks. 

After the boat ride, we all headed to a popular local restaurant where all of us had dined in years past. It was an evening we’ll never forget and look forward to repeating next time we return to Minnesota.

This was new…planter boxes with flowers at the boat docks. 

Tonight, we’re meeting more close friends, Lisa and Brian, at another restaurant frequented in our old neighborhood. Photos will follow for all of these meaningful events over the next few days.

Thanks to all our readers who’ve written to us expressing how they’ve enjoyed reading about our family-orientated visit to Minnesota. We’d expected our readership to decline during this period, but it has not. It inspires us to know that wherever we may be, whatever we may do, we always have YOU at our side.

Here is a small portion of the many expensive slips in Wayzata for Lake Minnetonka boat owners. There is an annual lottery for 100 residents only.  The remainder of boat owners must pay exorbitant fees at various locations, often priced well into the thousands of dollars.

In 30 days, the pace will kick up as we make our way to Costa Rica. I can’t wait to take photos of those colorful frogs, birds, and other wildlife indigenous to the wildlife-rich country. Back at you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, July 2, 2016:

Lots of fresh fish are reasonably priced in Singapore. For more photos, please click here.

Tornado weather rolling through…Commotion, stress and pushing in line…Is this the US we remember?…

Hand-carved wood houses.

It’s not the people…It’s the lifestyle, the traffic, the number of people, and…the sense of urgency; time constraints, digital and Wi-Fi issues, fender benders, meetings, playdates, softball games, and the hard-working, overbooked lives of many Americans and others throughout the world. For us, it’s glaring while here in the USA.

We don’t fit in. I ask myself the question, “Did we ever fit in?”  Looking back over our past lives, we too got caught in the hamster wheel of life, perpetually trying to get through the activity of the moment to get to the next. 

Flower samples of blooms in Butchart Gardens with notes naming each variety.

Living in the moment was nearly impossible. Rushing, speeding, and eating in the car with greasy hands on the wheel as the result of consuming the less-than-desirable quality of fast food or what we perceived as more healthy carry out in an attempt to get us through another long, painstaking day.

In our old lives, we counted on both hands the number of people we knew taking anti-anxiety drugs. Now it’s even more.  I spotted this article today in the New York Times, which may be found here about the rampant use of the drug Xanax and antidepressants in adults and children. It’s worth reading this story.

More flower samples.

Now there’s a stress-relieving device called a “fidget spinner” for use by those who can’t sit quietly and reflect, read a book, watch a movie or relax. When hands and fingers go idle after clicking on keyboards and screens day and night, such a distraction is needed by many to keep their digits active.

Tens of millions of “fidget spinners” have been sold. See this article for details. A few days ago, I noticed Tom twiddling his thumbs (for the first time) while we sat in standstill traffic, surely an anxious response to the stressful road conditions. 

The stress was evident in the lines in his brow, the scowl on his face. Yet, after almost five years of feeling calm 98% of the time, he maintained his cool, avoiding his occasional “overly grumpy” demeanor that may arise on busy travel days.

It’s always fun to see local handcrafted works.

As for me and my usual “overly bubbly” (and at times annoying) demeanor, I’m holding my own. Spending time with the people we love is a welcomed buffer and stress reliever, although traveling to them takes its toll, particularly on Tom.

Since we arrived 16 days ago, on no less than 10 occasions, we’ve been asked, “When will you move back to Minnesota or even the US?” We hedge, anticipating a reaction that may not be positive when we respond with “It’s not in the cards.”

Invariably, they continue with, “What about when you physically cannot travel anymore?”  We always remind ourselves of the beautiful 90 plus-year-old couple we met at dinner on our first cruise in January 2013. They’d been traveling the world for decades and still had no plans to stop, to settle down. 

Handcrafted sculptures.

Health provided, that could be us. And, if health fails, there are plenty of countries throughout the world where we can get the healthcare we need, stay until we’ve improved, and perhaps eventually stay until we can continue. 

But why worry about that now? Worry is the single highest cause of stress which ultimately has an impact on health. We don’t worry about the future. We plan it. We embrace it. We dream of it. 

Most of all, every day, we strive to “live in the moment,” cherishing wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing. At the moment, we’re calmly situated in the hotel’s “living room,” sipping great coffee with “real” cream, watching weather reports and maps on TV, illustrating where the storms and tornado warnings are headed. 

Metal sea sculptures for sale at the gift shop in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Today will be a quiet day for us, barring the continuing thunder.  Satisfied after having spent considerable time with family and friends this past week, we’re laying low, maybe heading out for a little shopping for jeans for Tom. With no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota, it makes sense to shop here instead of in Nevada.

We continue to replace most of our clothing with new shorts, jeans, tee shirts, shirts, and underwear to avoid the cost of shipping items in the next year or so. We’ll bring the items we’re replacing to the local Goodwill store.

The abundance of selections, colors, sizes can be daunting.  Yesterday, when I spent 45 minutes in Macy’s purchasing shirts and jeans, I left before I’d found everything on my list. The waiting for assistance, the line at the fitting room when all were full, the processing time for a single sale only reminded me of how adapted I’d been in my old life to all the chaos and commotion. Now? Not so much.

The shop was bustling with tourists.

We’ll continue to enjoy these remaining 26 days in Minnesota and then will be off to Nevada for three weeks for more traffic and commotion, softened by the joy of spending time with son Richard in Henderson and sister Susan in Las Vegas. 

Then, we’ll be on our way back to new and familiar remote locations; quiet countryside, a barren desert, desolate Antarctica, and the exquisite savannahs, plains, and bush in Africa. 

May your day be free of stress!

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2016: (Please see paragraph below photo caption)

In Bali, a fisherman on a tiny homemade raft most likely fishing for squid which is caught close to the shore. For more photos, please click here.
P.S. It was two years ago today our ship arrived in Sydney, Australia.  We were both horribly ill with the worse virus of our lives (caught on the ship), each with a fever and feeling dreadful.  We barely remember the three-hour flight from Sydney to Cairns and the excruciating wait at the rental car counter. How we ever managed to find the house in Trinity Beach baffles us to this day.  It took us three more weeks to recover, but we were thrilled to be settled in the lovely holiday home and beach community. None of life is exempt from stress brought on by circumstances that befall us all. Even our usual relatively stress-free life may become stressful from time to time.

Life in the big city… The people?…We love…The rest?…We can do without…

This reminded us of Versailles in Paris.

At 8:00 am yesterday, I drove from the hotel to Greg’s house to pick up granddaughter Maisie for her special day. These days with the grandchildren, one-on-one, will continue through the upcoming four-plus weeks until it’s time for us to move along on July 7th.

We love being with our…friends, and even those we don’t know, such as on this upcoming Friday night from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill at 220 Carlson Parkway, Plymouth, MN, where we’ll hold our first Meet & Greet for a few dozen of our Minnesota readers. 

The colors are a feast for the eyes.

If you haven’t RSVP’d, please do so now by email (link on the right side of our daily homepage). We’re already fully booked based on the accommodations but may have space for a few more if there are last-minute cancellations.

With the pace with family and friends at “full board,” we’re finding ourselves moving from one scenario to another at lightning speed. We flop into bed late at night and bolt upright early in the morning, ready to take on another busy and enjoyable day.

What a view!

I told Tom this morning it’s not unlike being on a cruise (except that we’re with those we already know and love) when every moment of each day is occupied in pleasurable and meaningful activities. Who’s to complain about being tired when every day is memorable?

The rest? The traffic? The road construction? The long lines? And a sense of urgency in public venues that we haven’t experienced in a long, long time. The easy peasy laid back lifestyle awaits us for another day.

Garden statue.

This is the here and now, and we’re gathering all of our tolerance and patience to live in this hustle and bustle lifestyle while spending these nine weeks, now almost down to seven weeks with four and a half weeks remaining in Minnesota and three weeks upcoming in Nevada.

For Tom, the traffic is his biggest frustration, a factor that he’s especially enjoyed living outside of the US. We rarely encounter traffic in any remote areas in which we’ve lived over these past several years. The pace is slow and uncluttered, the people in less of a hurry to move on to the next thing. 

Unique pond configuration.

However, in our usual manner, we adapt, as I find myself remembering my way around, the shortcuts, the times to shop, and to explore that enable me to avoid stressful situations. I’m holding up well to the pace, better than I ever expected I would. 

This pond garnered a lot of attention at the Butchart Gardens.

Tired?  A little. But, more so, I’m feeling energized by the events stacked up, one after another, each presenting its array of new experiences we haven’t had in so long we can barely remember.

Over these past years, as we’ve watched time flash before our eyes, eluding a sense of anticipation or even boredom, we do not doubt that this time, like all others, will soon pass, leaving us with the memories we’ll always carry in our hearts well into the future.

It was a perfect cool sunny day.

Ah, the present is excellent, the past is exceptional, and the future holds a compilation of who we’ve become in this process, in this life we’ve chosen, far beyond our wildest dreams.

Photo from one year ago today, June 7, 2016:

Most mornings in Bali, we’d see one of the local workers walking on the beach to a nearby temple with a platter of colorful flower offerings. At first, we thought she was bringing food to a neighbor, but when we asked Gede, he explained this ritual. For more details, please click here.

Request for family photos…Grandson’s 5th grade graduation…Dinner at Benihana…

Grandson Vincent at his 5th-grade graduation from SEA, School of Engineering and Arts.

When Adele and Wally, a lovely couple we met at a hotel in Barcelona before boarding a cruise through the Middle East in 2013, wrote yesterday suggesting we include some family photos during our six weeks in Minnesota, we decided it made sense. In the past week since we arrived, several other readers have written suggesting the same.

Vincent is receiving his graduation certificate.

As they explained, we always share photos of what’s transpiring in this life of world travel, and why would we exclude our family members? I suppose we intend to protect their privacy, so we’ll ask for their permission each time we do.

I’ve always hesitated to share many photos of our six grandchildren when anyone of questionable nature could be browsing for images of young children for unsavory reasons. 

Vincent and his friend Rowan giggling after the graduation during this photo op.

Now that the kids are getting older, I’ve relaxed my fear a little but still hesitate to do so. But today, after an amazing day yesterday, we decided to share some photos of grandson Vincent’s 5th-grade graduation and include photos of the other grandchildren soon.

Our Teppanyaki chef prepared the meals on the grill.

I don’t recall significant graduation ceremonies for anything other than completing high school as having much significance in a child’s life, requiring not much more than congrats from parents, family members, and friends. Seldom was a gift rendered or a party held for the child’s moving on to another grade or school.

Times have changed. Any opportunity to celebrate is a welcome aspect of life for many throughout the world.  That’s all good in our minds. And we looked forward to participating in Vincent’s special day without hesitation.  How fortunate that we are to have been here during this important time for him.

Tracy and Tom all smile.

The celebrations began on Wednesday during a picnic and played day at a local park where the kids frolicked in the grass when a local fire truck sprayed a stream of water into a field, enabling the kids to have fun getting soaked.  It was a good day.

A flaming tower of onion rings.

Yesterday was the actual graduation ceremony for his 80 member 5th-grade class at “SEA,” the School of Engineering and Arts. The gym was packed with enthusiastic and animated parents and grandparents anxious to see their loved ones graduate from this unique and highly acclaimed school.

After the commencement exercises ended, we headed to the lunch hall for cake and beverages. I declined the cake while Tom couldn’t resist a piece of white cake with lots of frosting. 

In order to avoid contamination from vegetable oils (which I don’t eat), my meal was prepared in the kitchen instead of at the table—seasoned well. It was pretty good.

After that party ended, we made our way to Benihana, a popular local Asian Teppanyaki restaurant, for dinner with Tammy, Tracy, Vincent, Tammy’s mom Lynda (Tom’s ex-wife), and Tracy’s mom Lena, where we all had a nice dinner.

Tom and I with Vincent.

Later on, Tom and I headed back to our hotel for a relaxing remainder of the evening to unwind and catch our breath. Again, it was a pleasant day and evening, and we were reeling with gratefulness for the experiences with our family members.

We’ll be back with a few more family photos over the next weeks as we continue to relish every moment spent in Minnesota with our family and friends.

From left to right, he was beginning at the back row. Tracy and Lynda and Lena (Vincent’s two other grandmas), Tom, Tammy, and Vincent. As a graduation gift we gave Vincent a family heirloom chess set including the board on his lap.

Have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 3, 2016:

Hamburger night in Bali, Tom had homemade burgers with cheese, fries, veggies, coleslaw while I had everything minus the fries. We’ve noticed he coughs from acid reflux at night after eating fries. No fries?  No cough. Humm…what does that tell him? For more photos, please click here.

An inside peek on the joy of meeting people along the way…Smiling and blushing at the same time…

Bob explained this single red bloom, a type of lily, is growing out of season.  The photo was taken on a cloudy day.

There’s no doubt our hearts are filled with appreciation and joy from the kindness and love we receive from people we meet along the way, whether it’s in a town, a quaint village, or on a cruise.

The curiosity and interest in our lifestyle are often coupled with an abundance of warmth and friendship we can hardly believe comes our way with such ease. We often ask one another, “How did we get so lucky to meet so many fine people?”
Now 11 days since the last cruise ended, we have received emails from passengers we met during the 12 days at sea. Again, we were asked for our web address prompting us to hand our business cards more times on this shorter cruise than when we sailed on the 33-night cruise when we’d attached ourselves to the same two fine couples for happy hour and dinner every night. 
We had a lot of fun with Lois and Tom and Cheryl and Stan, remaining in touch since the cruises ended on December 3rd via Facebook. It was a memorable experience during the lengthy cruise, which circumvented the entire Australian continent, which we’ll always remember fondly.
With the steep drop in the yard of the holiday home, there’s a protective fence, as shown with this pretty succulent leaning against it.
However, we learned a valuable lesson…mingle. The depth of the meaning of our world travels enhanced by having a wide array of experiences; meeting people from all walks of life, meeting people from many parts of the world, while hearing their often exciting and unique experiences of not only travel but of life itself.
Mingling with many people provides us with the added opportunity to learn even more about human nature, a process that hopefully will continue through the balance of our lives regardless of where we may be at any given time. 
We’ll never delude ourselves in stating, “We’ve seen and done it all.” But, in many ways, we’ve just begun with so much more of the world to see ahead of us. If we continued to travel for 10 to 20 years or more, we’d barely have touched the surface of what this world has to offer. 
We remind ourselves daily to remain humble and in awe of the world and our opportunity to live this life, often through challenging and difficult times, which to date have not deterred our enthusiasm in any manner.
Tom took this photo of the center of the above succulent.  Simple beauty with dewdrops.
When we receive an email such as the message we’ve included below, we share it not to “toot our own horn” or to “brag” about people “liking us.” That’s not us, as those of you who have followed our candid and vulnerable story for any length of time is most assuredly aware.
We share this email with our readers to join us in the pleasure we glean from meeting wonderful people along the way. After all, our loyal readers seem to empathize with our trials and tribulations as well as in the memorable happy events we encounter day by day.
While aboard the recent 12-night cruise ending on March 13th, we met a lovely couple, Christina and Harold (whom we’d mentioned on a few prior posts) on the third day of the cruise during Cruise Critic’s “cabin crawl,” an event where various members volunteer to show their cabins in other categories.

In this particular case, Christina and Harold kindly hosted a lovely event with food and drinks in their penthouse cabin, which even we’d never seen after 17 cruises in the past four-plus years. 

Coleus, an excellent shady area plant.

Little did we know we’d hit it off so well with this special newly engaged couple, considerably younger than us (by about 25 years), world travelers in their own right, with Harold having visited many of the exciting countries we’ve stayed in our travels.

It wasn’t just the commonality of our experience that connected us. It was the warmth and kindness we all exuded in one another’s company.  
Yesterday, we received this beautiful message from Christina that warmed our hearts, prompting us to ask if they’d mind if we share it here today. Christina wrote back promptly saying they love for us to share it, and thus, here it is, presented with a bit of modesty and surely a blush on our faces:  
“Hello from sunny Florida!!!
Harold and I went to Christchurch, Auckland, Vegas, and Houston before my return home to Tampa last night – It’s been a fantastic adventure!! 

You were the most memorable couple we had the pleasure of meeting – We looked for you in your designated spot on the last day, went to the lounge, called your room a few times, and didn’t get you – you were like beautiful angels who had now disappeared. 

Harold is a world traveler (I’m brand new to his adventures). He has never met anyone who traveled for pleasure more than he did until he met you, and he’s been raving about you ever since – We’re honored to have met you!!!! 
We want to say THANK YOU for being so kind and open, telling us about your lives, giving the great life lessons and advice you gave (we kept looking at each other in shock because you were honestly speaking to us), your travels, your healthy eating lifestyle (as I’m trying to convince Harold that that’s the way to go.) and inviting us to meet you someday out on your adventures. These excellent chapters of your life have genuinely impacted us!! 

I finally got a chance to look at your website and the fun memories you share!! We love what you’re doing in your retirement and look forward to seeing you again someday, hopefully sooner than later. 

We will keep you in our prayers for safe travels and excellent health throughout, and we’ll be watching with admiration and love!!

It’s back to reality here on the home front – work, work, work – However, now the plan is to fund a perfect retirement, vacation more, and enjoy life!! 

You’re our heroes!!!!

With love,
Unknown variety of red berries.

We wrote back expressing the appreciation we feel for having met them, the time we spent together (including dinner served by butlers in their suite) and at various times throughout the ship and, the hope that our paths will cross again someday. Thank you, Christina and Harold, for sharing a part of your lives with us and for your heartfelt, meaningful message.

It’s not only a breathtaking scene, an exquisite animal in the wild, or a blissfully colorful flower we encounter in our travels that fills us with an appreciation for this magical world… it’s the people we meet who open their hearts to welcome us for a moment, for a day, or a lifetime…
P.S. I couldn’t resist including contact information for Christina’s real estate business in Tampa, Florida, USA.  We have no doubt she is a highly competent real estate professional.  Please contact Christina at this link
Thanks, dear readers and friends, for sharing another day in our lives!
Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2016:
When seeing these fish prices in New Zealand one year ago, we felt they were quite reasonable. For example, one TV guru Gordon Ramsey’s favorite, is the John Dorey and red snapper (which we purchased).  At the NZ price of 37.50, the US $25.33 for a kilo is 2.2 pounds! What a great price! For more details of our visit to the seafood market, please click here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!…A special day for many throughout the world…How are we celebrating this year?…

A pretty pink rose with Happy Valentine’s Day wishes for all of our readers both today and tomorrow, depending on which side of the International Dateline you’re residing.

As the years of world travel literally fly by, the special occasions and holidays become less important to us. Instead, we focus on the exquisite joys of daily life, simple in their execution and complex in the layers they represent in our world journey.

View from the car while driving on Highway A6 in the Huon Valley.

Valentine’s Day is another of those special occasions that we’ve gradually lost interest in celebrating with gifts, flowers, or lavishly prepared meals. Tonight, we have delicious leftovers, which are quite fine with us.

In our old lives, it was an entirely different scenario. Tom would always come home from work with a big bouquet, an embellished greeting card with handwritten loving words contained therein. 

Apple ripening, ready for the picking.

I’d bake a heart-shaped cake (yes, I had two heart-shaped baking pans), decorated with a loving touch (no, I wasn’t the best at decorating cakes) along with the special dinner, a beautifully wrapped gift, and of course, a card.

Church in a small town.

Around this “holiday” and others (seemingly perpetrated by Hallmark) lie a certain number of expectations. Easily, these types of celebrations may result in a degree of disappointment and heartbreak if one or the other of a couple doesn’t hold up their end of the deal. 

Huumm…another vehicle atop a roof of a fuel station. It must be a trend here in the Huon Valley.

We’re way beyond setting ourselves up for such potential disappointment. Besides, in many parts of the world, particularly less developed countries where we’ve spent considerable periods of time, it’s simply not possible to shop for such items when Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated worldwide.

Splendid scenery.

As in this statement from The History Channel at: (click the link for the origins of Valentine’s Day:

“Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings    

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century.

By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.

Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.”

An unusual fishing boat.

As it turns out,  Valentine’s Day, my birthday (February 20th), and our wedding anniversary (March 7th) fall within a three-week period.  Were we to make a fuss over each of these occasions, we’d be in a predicament. 

This fuzzy fruit left us curious. What could it be? Shaped like a pear, fuzzy like a peach. Any suggestions?

A warm embrace, a kiss, and a loving smile are all either of us needs or wants on these otherwise celebratory occasions. Besides, neither of us has any room in our luggage for any superfluous items. Therefore, we strive to keep it “light” in every way possible.

We took this photo through the water-marked window to the end of the dock to find this Black Faced Cormorant. She/he stayed at the end of the dock for a few hours in the rain.

By no means does this diminish our love and devotion to one another, which we revel in each day. How many couples spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week in each other’s company and still adore each other after almost 52 months of traveling the world (and together, almost 26 years)? We’re blessed. We’re grateful.

However you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, have a loving, fulfilling, and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 14, 2016:

Love comes in many forms. This year ago photo was posted on Valentine’s Day in 2016. For the birth of a new little cria, please click here for the story.